Letter from Athens: Only one place in Greece where Muslims can bury the dead


First, they were denied a proper place of worship in a country that demands religious tolerance for Greek Orthodoxy abroad but not for other religions in Greece, lip service.

Surely they should have paid for it, not let the Greek state build it for them, which made them look like grateful beggars, when instead wealthy sponsors in their own community here and in other countries could have put together the money that pays for independence.

Only then, of course, were they allowed to have their first official place of worship, a mosque, replacing the cellars and storehouses and empty rooms in the buildings to which they had been relegated by governments. indifferent who had promised that the practice would cease.

It took too many years and in the end, despite zealous opposition from the mad nationalist right and even some members of the Greek Orthodox Church, an official mosque opened in Athens and there is no had no complaints, no calls to prayer and no problems.

Now Muslims in Greece want the simple decency of their own cemetery in Athens – there is one in Thrace – and, based on the history of bureaucracy, the jobs of religious lunatics who think theirs is theirs alone, and the inevitable conspiracy theories, which will likely take years too.

Why? Why can’t people of a different faith have their own cemetery? It seems like the Christian thing to do.

In the year 2022 – not 1822, when the Greeks were emerging from 400 years of religious freedom deprivation by the last remnants of the fallen Ottoman Empire – all empires fall – a group of peoples, the Muslims, want a cemetery for them. Where is the argument against that?

The call came, oddly enough, at a press conference held jointly by the Afghan and Pakistani communities, the United Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat (KEERFA) and, for some reason, lawmakers from arch-rival SYRIZA.

The leftists were in power for 4½ years and were lucky to create one, but former minister Nikos Filis, who clashed with the Church and even his own leader and former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, pulled a “hummana hummana” from Ralph Kramden when trying to explain why his party didn’t then, instead of calling it now, when the anti-refugee New Democracy is in power.

“This cemetery is a democratic issue, a matter of respect for human rights,” he said, but blaming “contracting interests” for SYRIZA’s inaction, without explaining what the hell means what he said – because there is none.

He’s a guy who, when he was in charge of the Ministry of Education, said that excellence in education was not a virtue, was youth secretary of the Communist Party, to which he is so devoted that ‘he doesn’t belong to the party, so his commitments move with the wind.

He denied the Pontic Greek Genocide, which is a crime in Greece but was not prosecuted for it, making him a fugitive from the law even longer than PAOK football team owner Ivan ‘The Terrible’ Savvidis, who was charged with bringing a gun. the ground but never pursued.

The request for the cemetery came from the family of a refugee family whose 5-year-old son was killed when he was run over by a truck at the detention center where they are being held while asking for the asylum, which in Greece can take longer than obtaining a driver’s license without paying a bribe.

The child was buried in the cemetery of Schistos, Kathimerini said in a report on the press conference that really should have taken place at the office of Archbishop Ieronymos, who should be the first to support Muslims with a cemetery. The Church has fought the idea of ​​cremation for years, believing that only the bones are sacred, although when it comes time for routine exhumations to allow the removal of the coffins, the bodies are sometimes found not to be gone that far. I don’t remember it saying “bone to bone” though.

Greece will not even allow Muslims to appoint their own muftis, jurists who rule on important points of Islamic law. Why not? It’s their religion, let them choose their own leaders.

Greece refuses to call a Turk a Turk because the Turkish minority in Western Thrace is defined as a Muslim minority in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne – which the Turkish President does not recognize, hence the basis of the very argument if “a Turk is a Turk”. and a Greek is a Greek.

Zorba put an end to this nonsense when he showed the Englishman scars on his body on one side by Turks and on the other by Greeks only to say: “What the hell is that to me? does it matter if a man is Turkish or Greek? All I care about is that he’s a good man.

People tend to resist or reject something they don’t understand, and it’s because they don’t want to listen. When they do, they are more likely to accept, including someone else’s religion. It is tolerance. The opposite is ignorance.

As Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe said at the end of The Big Sleep: “You were dead, you slept the big sleep, you weren’t bothered by things like that, oil and water were the same thing as the wind and the air for you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring how bad it was how you died or where you fell.

Unless, of course, you are a Muslim falling in Greece.


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